Here is what he said. Edward Cook, one of the world’s foremost authorities on ancient trees and how to learn from them (Dendrochronology), wrote to Michael Mann, both men scientists involved in making their science understandable and available to the public and the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Both men thought their communication would be private, probably forever. When no one is looking, this is what they say to one another:
From: Edward Cook <firstname.lastname@example.org>
To: “Michael E. Mann” <email@example.com>
Subject: Re: hockey stick
Date: Wed, 2 May 2001 15:25:41 -0400
Cc: tom crowley <firstname.lastname@example.org>, email@example.com, Jonathan Overpeck <firstname.lastname@example.org>, Keith Briffa <email@example.com>, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com
No problem. I am quite happy to work this stuff through in a careful way and am happy to discuss it all with you. I certainly don’t want the work to be viewed as an attack on previous work such as yours. Unfortunately, this global change stuff is so politicized by both sides of the issue that it is difficult to do the science in a dispassionate environment. I ran into the same problem in the acid rain/forest decline debate that raged in the 1980s. At one point, I was simultaneous accused of being a raving tree hugger and in the pocket of the coal industry. I have always said that I don’t care what answer is found as long as it is the truth or at least bloody close to it.
This note appeared at the end of a rough-and-tumble debate over what data can be trusted, the motives of scientists involved, and how to make the best use of data collected, clear and unclear, in order to make an accurate portrayal of what is happening in our atmosphere.
I’ll wager no critic of these scientists bothered to quote this one today, nor will they. In toto, the purloined e-mails show a devotion to science, and the requisite devotion to accuracy and ethical behaviors. But in a political debate where television weathermen feel compelled to demonize scientists to promote their political beliefs, who can afford to look at the big picture?
My apologies to Dr. Cook for the purloining of the e-mail (though of course I had no role in the hacking); my appreciation to Dr. Cook for standing up for what’s right, damn the critics, when he th0ught no one was looking.
That’s the definition of character, isn’t it?